Meet Megan


     "Sometimes I think I AM Judy Moody," says Megan McDonald, author of the award-winning JUDY MOODY books. "I'm certainly moody, like she is. Judy has a strong voice and always speaks up for herself. I like that."

     Being able to speak up for herself wasn't always easy. The author grew up as the youngest of five sisters in a house full of books in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her father, an ironworker, built bridges across the city and was known to his coworkers as "Little Johnny the Storyteller." Every evening at dinnertime the McDonald family would gather around the kitchen table, talking and telling stories. But with four older sisters, Megan remembers barely being able to get a word in edgewise. "I'm told I began to stutter," she says. “That’s when my mother gave me a notebook, so that I could write down everything I wanted to say!”

     Pretending to be a pencil sharpener was Megan McDonald’s first experience as a writer. She was 10 years old when she wrote the story for her school newspaper. “Anything can become an idea for a story,” says McDonald. “Even a pencil sharpener!” Megan has since written and published over 60 books for children in 22 languages, including the hilarious Judy Moody adventures, which are largely inspired by her childhood memories of growing up with four older sisters.

     Megan says, “I am lucky to be a writer, because I get to live in my imagination. (And I get to go to work in my pajamas!) I spend my days thinking like a hermit crab or a little blue penguin or a girl who loves bugs. Or pretending I’m a bossy big sister with a little brother named Stink. Or traveling back in history as a young girl who journeys across the Santa Fe Trail in 1848. Or solving a mystery in 17th century Jamestown. I spend my days looking at things upside down, inside-out, sideways, wondering, imagining, questioning everything, always wanting to see the inside.

     Megan has a B.A. in English from Oberlin College and a Masters in Library Science from the University of Pittsburgh. When she took her first writing class, her professor told her to go home and rip up all the poems she had ever written. He told her she was a prose writer. Megan went home and looked up “prose” in the dictionary to find out what she was! Before she became a writer, Megan worked in museums, libraries and bookstores. She has also made a living as a storyteller and a park ranger. Megan McDonald now lives with her husband in Sebastopol, California.

     I first got to thinking about moods as a story idea when I visited bookstores, schools, and libraries, talking with kids of all ages. “Are you ever in a bad mood? Can you write books when you’re in a bad mood?” they'd ask. This inspired me to dream up Judy Moody, a character with a whole range of moods, good and bad, happy and sad.

     Growing up as the youngest of five sisters often put me in a mood. There was the time my family took a beach vacation in Florida. I had to stay home with my crazy aunt. I didn’t set eyes on the ocean until I was a teenager! Then there was the time we went to Washington D.C. My sisters got to take a tour of the White House, but I was too young to go. I stayed home and thought up the Rubber Hand trick (as Judy does to Stink) to play on my sisters! And let's not forget when my mom made pilgrim costumes for Halloween. With four older sisters, those costumes got passed down to me year after year after year. “BOR-ing!” as Judy Moody would say. So, guess what? I wrote a book about it for beginning readers! See Ant and Honey Bee: A Pair of Friends at Halloween (coming Summer 2010 from Candlewick Press).


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